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Utahns Remember Appearing on 'The Tonight Show'

Utahns Remember Appearing on 'The Tonight Show'

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Kim Johnson reporting He put America to bed with a smile on its face for three decades. Millions will miss Johnny Carson, who passed away yesterday at the age of 79.

And even though we felt we knew him, Kim Johnson found some Utahns really did.

Through the years some Utahns appeared as guests on the tonight show. A couple of them shared their memories today.

Dian Thomas: "It was the most incredible experience in my career ever."

June 4th, 1970, Utah's well-respected home economist Dian Thomas appears for seventeen minutes on The Tonight Show.

Dian Thomas/ Author: "After it was over he said, 'That was great. I'll go back and plug your book.' There isn't a nicer gift or anything anybody could give you than somebody at his level saying I'll plug your book. It changed my life."

Her book, "Roughing It Easy" became a New York Times best-seller, and after her appearance on The Tonight Show, Dian appeared on thousands of television programs. But she says she never met anyone with wit as sharp, or quick, as Carson's.

Dian Thomas: "He could just pick up on anything that came by and run with it. I think the other thing I've never seen anybody do that he did-- facial expressions. He said more with a look than most people say with ten minutes."

Sunee Eardley was only seven when she and her friend Jenny were guests. They'd won an economics fair contest at Hooper Elementary by telling jokes for a penny each.

Sunee Haws Eardley: "The lights were so bright we couldn't even see the studio audience, so it just felt like we were just in the room with this really nice man who thought everything we said was wonderful."

"What do you call a cow with no legs? Ground beef."

Their segment was chosen to be on Best of Carson.

Sunee Haws Eardley: "His secretary, or the lady who called my dad, said that our segment was the favorite child segment that he'd ever done."

Eardley still has memorbilia, the name tag on her dressing room, the penny Carson gave her for one of her jokes, and a photograph taken with Carson after the taping. Memories suddenly more meaningful, now that an American legend has passed on.

Sunee Haws Eardley: The world will be a not so funny place without him. He was legend."

Johnny once said, "When I die I don't want a huge funeral, I don't want a lot of fanfare and eulogies. I just want a few of my very best friends and family to gather around my grave...and try to bring me back to life."

Just as he wanted, no public memorial is planned.

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